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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Insurance to drive someone else's car

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If you've ever needed to borrow a vehicle from a friend, you've probably wondered if their insurance policy covers you. You may be covered under the car owner's insurance policy if they have comprehensive insurance, depending on your state and the terms of the policy. However, if you frequently borrow a car, you may want to get your own policy so you can drive others' vehicles with confidence. Learn what kind of insurance you need if you frequently borrow someone else's car.

Does insurance cover the vehicle or the driver?

Most full coverage auto insurance policies are written to follow the vehicle rather than the driver, so if you borrow someone else's fully insured car, you'll most likely be covered under their policy. What is covered under their policy, however, will vary depending on the type of insurance they have.

If you have insurance on your own vehicle and borrow someone else's vehicle, some aspects of your insurance may apply to the borrowed vehicle—check your policy.

What About Liability Protection?

If you have car insurance and drive someone else's car, it's common for liability insurance to cover claims in vehicles you don't own up to the policy limits. If you have standard insurance, your liability insurance will usually protect you to some extent if you get into an accident in an uninsured borrowed car, or if the other driver sues you.

If you are uninsured and borrow a vehicle with liability coverage, you may be covered under their policy if you are temporarily driving the vehicle with permission.

What if the borrowed car sustains physical damage?

If you are an insured driver and borrow someone else's car, any damage to the car may be covered by insurance if the vehicle qualifies as a temporary substitute for your car. To be covered by your collision and comprehensive insurance, you and the car must meet, at a minimum, the following definition and requirements of a temporary substitute auto, depending on your policy.

A "temporary substitute auto" is a vehicle that serves as a replacement for a covered vehicle while the covered vehicle is out of service due to breakdown, servicing, repair, loss, or destruction. Substitute vehicles include:

  • Rented by you or an insured driver from a business that rents motor vehicles under a written contract;

  • Used with the express permission of the owner of that auto and within the scope of that permission;

  • Not owned by you, a family member, or any insured driver.

When the first of the following events occurs, an automobile ceases to be a "temporary substitute auto":

  • The covered vehicle it was replacing is repaired, restored to service, or replaced;

  • the rented vehicle is returned

  • 30 days passed.

If you're uninsured and borrowing an insured vehicle, the vehicle owner's insurance should cover any property damage you cause while driving, but this depends on the policy language and the limits chosen.

What If You Borrow or Rent Someone Else's Car?

If you frequently borrow or rent a vehicle, you should consider purchasing non-owner car insurance—insurance designed for drivers who do not own a vehicle but still drive on a regular basis. Non-owner car insurance typically includes liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection, but does not include collision or comprehensive coverage.

What if you lend your car to someone else?

If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, your insurance will usually follow your vehicle and extend coverage to anyone who drives your car with your permission. Remember that if you have a policy in your name, you will be responsible for the deductible as well as any additional fees incurred by the driver in the event of an accident.

Considerations When Lending Your Car to Someone Else

If you frequently lend your car to someone, you should notify your insurance company to see if any restrictions apply to your coverage. Your insurance company will want to know who is borrowing your car and their driving history. If the borrower has a poor driving record, your premium may rise or your insurer may refuse to insure them.

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